When asking the question as to why Charles Bukowski does not get much respect in the U. S. as a “serious” author, one must begin by examining who does not….
Charles Bukowski’s Diction
Diction refers to the writer’s distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression in a poem or story. A secondary, common meaning is more precisely expressed with the word enunciation – the art of speaking clearly so that each word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity. Diction has multiple concerns; register words being either formal or informal in social contexts. Literary diction analysis reveals how a passage establishes tone and characterization. Knowing this, how can we apply this conception to Bukowski’s works? It’s simple: What is most important about Bukowski’s works is the accessibility.
His works are written in plain language which makes them a fast read, and “easily” translatable (although the bests are always the originals). Charles Bukowski’s style is reportedly one of the most imitated in the world due to its simplicity, and has influenced numerous writers in the realism movement, which doesn’t mean that this style is an easy choice, mostly because his writing was, among other peculiarities, heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city (Los Angeles) and is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work.
His voice is from people who occupies a place among those outcasts, outlaws, madmen and solitaries whose outspoken visions achieved against all odds a global presence. Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hubert Selby Jr. and William Burroughs were some authors who, as Bukowski, made use of these themes to expess their own points of view in a very particular way, being Bukowski the most “objective and clear” and non-scholarly one of them.
Yet, even among such outsiders, he remains outside, a consummate loner, since the others, unlike him, reveal in their various styles a certain hard-won haggling with literature that was, to him, the stuff of dupes. The tone of most of Bukowski’s works is autobiographic and often reffers to his feelings of a permanently disfigured boy in early adolescence by painful boils, so severe that they had to be surgically lanced.
He also worked in a succession of heartbreaking menial jobs, culminating in a numbing nine-year stint in the U. S. Post Office, facts that would give him a lot to write about, especially his feelings in relation to these facts. He perfectly depicted the depravity of urban life and the downtrodden in American society. Bukowski relied on experience, emotion, and imagination in his work, using direct language, violence and sexual imagery.
He writes with a nothing-to-lose truthfulness which sets him apart from most other autobiographical novelists and poets. He has established himself as a writer with a consistent and insistent style based on what he projects as his ‘personality,’ the result of hard, intense living and the sense of a desolate, abandoned world. In addition to desolation, Bukowski’s free verse tackles the absurdities of life, especially in relation to death.
The subject matters of this world are also drinking, sex, gambling, and music; the Bukowski style, however, is like a crisp, hard voice; an excellent ear and eye for measuring out the lengths of lines; and an avoidance of metaphor where a lively anecdote will do the same dramatic work. Furthermore, his grace with words gives a comic gleam to even his meanest revelations. Bukowski’s poems give the impression that they’re best appreciated not as individual verbal artifacts but as ongoing installments in the tale of his true adventures, like a comic book or a movie serial.
They are strongly narrative, drawing from an endless supply of anecdotes that typically involve, for ex: a bar, a skid-row hotel, a horse race, a girlfriend, or any permutation thereof. Bukowski’s free verse is really a series of declarative sentences broken up into a long column, the short lines giving an impression of speed and terseness even when the language is sentimental or cliche. Maybe that is the reason of way the readers feel so close to him, as we’re talking to a close friend.
The fact is that, with his own simple diction, which is so direct and easy understandable (but yet deep, sensitive and real at the same time) we can really feel ourselves in what he’s talking about, even if we have no idea of what it is like to be in his shoes. In the end, we relate his experiences as the world and people as they really are, and we can’t hide from it any longer. it’s true: pain and suffering helps to create what we call art. given the choice I’d never choose this damned pain and suffering for myself but somehow it finds me as the royalties continue to roll on in.